Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Review: The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

The Versions of Us

by Laura Barnett

Now, I must confess, I have a salad bowl of opinions when it comes to this novel novel (see what I did there ;)).
        The purpose of this book is to explore the different roads that people's lives can lead depending on the tiniest decision or the most microscopic-seeming object being in a different place. Eva's story starts when she's riding her bike down the streets of Cambridge.

        Three things could happen:
  1. A dog and a nail cause Eva to collapse on her bike, causing her to meet Jim. She leaves her former lover, David, and marries Jim.
  2. Eva has a safe ride home, marries David, and doesn't meet Jim until years later.
  3. A dog and a nail cause Eva to collapse on her bike, causing her to meet Jim. She courts Jim for a while but then finds out she's pregnant with David's baby and leaves to marry him.

        I have to compliment Barnett on the novelty of this plot. It's something I have seen before, but never to this quality. Combining three plots, with the same characters and very closely related relationships, is hard to do without completely losing the reader, and I think Barnett did an astounding job. The fact that I didn't put this book down half way through is a sure indicator of that!

        On the other hand, the characters I had mixed feelings about. I feel as if they didn't have as much substance as I would have liked and, although I did enjoy reading their stories, I couldn't relate to them emotionally at all. I would have liked to, but I just couldn't. On a brighter note though, the characters were not in the slightest dislikeable and I would more than happily read about them again, however, preferably with a little more "oomph" as I shall call it. Let's make a call to 3D-ify characters in books a little further!

        One thing that I found hard in this book was getting sucked in. The ever-switching story versions really messed with my head and I found myself having to spend a few minutes trying to remember what happened in that version - sometimes to no avail - before I could read the chapter. I'm a very confused person in general though, so I'm not sure to what extent I can attribute this to the author's writing! Many other people seemed to have coped alright though, so I would just say to beware if you're like me and have a very disorganised mind because this is a Rubik's cube of a book for us mess-heads!

        To end this review on a positive note, I would like to compliment Barnett on her absolutely amazing ability to conduct the tone of the different periods (1958-2014) written into the pages of this book. That was probably my favourite part of this book, as everything just felt so as it should be!

Abi Ainley


  1. This sounds brilliant.
    I actually read an interview with her the ther day (here if you're interested: http://www.ideastap.com/IdeasMag/the-knowledge/laura-barnett-the-versions-of-us) and thought it sounded fascinating.
    Lovely review, shall have to read this one :)

  2. The only bad thing I can say about it is it was a little confusing at times, trying to juggle three of the same situations with the same characters but different relationships. It was still a great read though and I recommend it! Thanks for commenting :D I'll go read that interview now